So it’s Guy Fawkes Day. Thanks to the Gunpowder Plot to blow up Parliament, English Protestants have had a Catholic boogeyman to focus their hate on for centuries. Fawkes would have been the Osama bin Laden of Catholics, had he succeeded. I wouldn’t doubt it, in fact, if it were actually Divine Providence that prevented Fawkes from carrying out his conspired terrorist act in 1605.
How shall we Catholics look upon this event?
I suppose one could act like the leftists and blame the social conditions of the time. For example, recall how in recent years terrorism has been blamed on poverty and a lack of economic opportunity.
We have a huge common interest in dealing with this issue of poverty, which in many cases is the root cause of terrorism or even the root cause of the disenfranchisement of millions of people on this planet.
– U.S. senator and presidential candidate John Kerry
This kind of excuse is along the same lines as blaming black crime on white privilege and blaming black-bloc vandalism and riots on economic inequality and climate change.
So shall we play the victimhood game? Shall we blame Fawkes’s actions on the disenfranchisement and persecution of Catholics in 17th-century England?
After all, consider the long list of state-sanctioned executions of people who dared to consider themselves English Catholics. Consider the suffering and imprisonment of the English Recusants, who valiantly refused to abandon their religion in the face of popular scorn. And let us not forget the overarching English disdain for Catholicism, which bleeds into the cultural attitudes of even our present day.
In fact, among one group, so hated was the Church that Christ began that England’s anti-Catholicism simply wasn’t enough. A purer, more distilled form of Protestantism had to be crafted, and they even had to cross the Atlantic Ocean itself just to get away from Europe’s legacy of Christendom. On the shores of North America, their purity spiral would be free to run rampant, and these men would be unencumbered in their ongoing quest to rarefy their interpretation of Christianity, to the point of becoming Judaic and, in later centuries, Zionist. Such is the legacy of Puritanism.
Yet, when it comes to England’s celebration of Guy Fawkes Day, I do not think down-to-earth, red-blooded Catholics will be satisfied with the idea of Fawkes being a martyr for a permanently aggrieved status. That course of action is neither productive nor useful.
One other way to reflect upon and consider the public mind in regards to Guy Fawkes Day is to realize that the celebration of Fawkes’s demise is not, simply, a victory over terrorism. When the English burn effigies of Guy Fawkes and shoot off their fireworks, the general consensus is not a rejoicing of law and order over anarchy.
No, the celebration of Guy Fawkes Day has a distinctive anti-Catholic flavor about it. And really, its continued observance is an ongoing testament to anti-Catholic bigotry to this very day.
The English are not alone in celebrating such revolutionary benchmarks. The next most immediate holiday that comes to mind is Bastille Day in France, another occasion for fireworks that celebrates the bloody ouster of Christendom from public life – only Catholics probably call to mind the words “Reign of Terror.” Shortly after the storming of the Bastille, Catholic Frenchmen were torn apart in the streets, gunned down, and beheaded by guillotine. It was one of the most odious examples of anti-Christian hate in history, and the French celebrate this every year.
Speaking of The Bastille, George Washington was presented with a three-pound key to the Bastille. This may have been a cause for mutual celebration, for the Freemasons have a little Catholic-bashing festivity of their own. Every time a new member is inducted into the order, the newbie is to bash a tiara and a crown with a rod – symbolizing the Freemason mission of destroying the papacy and the monarchical tradition of Christendom.
Here in the 21st century, the West is rife with anti-Catholic ritual, and there is an anti-Tradition anti-authority spirit behind all of it. With this in mind, it becomes a little more understandable how today’s black-bloc Antifa groups would choose the Guy Fawkes weekend to threaten their anarchy on American cities. For these modern-day seditionists, perhaps they celebrate the state-sponsored demonization of one institution: the Catholic Church in England. Yet black-bloc radicals simultaneously celebrate the reckless, misguided spirit of a national villain who was ready to blow Parliament sky-high with 36 barrels of gunpowder.
So how shall a Catholic regard Guy Fawkes Day? Well, if you’re in England, I suppose you could enjoy the fireworks. But it should be understandable if this holiday of Protestant patriotism makes the Catholics nervous.
For the astute cultural observer, whoever and wherever you may be, it can be instructive to take a step back and marvel at our de-Christianized society’s contradictions. The Protestants wanted to be more Christian than the Catholics, and yet we’ve descended into an irreligious culture of hedonism and violence. Grievance victim culture is revered and lionized, but not if you’re a Catholic, in which case you’re demonized. The cultural left wants to vilify a Catholic rebel who tried to blow up the government, but in the same breath, those leftists will imitate the carnage of this enemy-turned-icon and do their best to pick up where Fawkes left off.
Until the day comes when there’s a parliamentary act in England to abolish Guy Fawkes Day, we shall ever be left with quite the vicious poetry to remind us of England’s messy national holiday:
The fifth of November,
The Gunpowder treason and plot;
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!
Guy Fawkes and his companions
Did the scheme contrive,
To blow the King and Parliament
All up alive.
Threescore barrels, laid below,
To prove old England’s overthrow.
But, by God’s providence, him they catch,
With a dark lantern, lighting a match!
A stick and a stake
For King James’s sake!
If you won’t give me one,
I’ll take two,
The better for me,
And the worse for you.
A rope, a rope, to hang the Pope,
A penn’orth of cheese to choke him,
A pint of beer to wash it down,
And a jolly good fire to burn him.
Holloa, boys! holloa, boys! make the bells ring!
Holloa, boys! holloa boys! God save the King!
Hip, hip, hooor-r-r-ray!